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Audium 9 

When: Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.
Price: $20

Drown in Sound

The Audium was started in 1965 by composer Stan Shaff and equipment designer Doug McEachern. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays, and you have to be there on time — they lock the door. The room fits 50 people or so. There are chairs arranged in a semicircle. There are something like 180 speakers arranged around the room. After a short speech, they turn off all the lights and you listen — in pitch darkness, in a room full of strangers. That's it. You listen. There is no texting, no going to the bathroom. No nothing. Your senses all dissolve into one. And the composition is fantastic. But if you put 50 of these things around the country, 49 of them would probably fail. You only need one Audium. Apple Inc. is going to make 80 bazillion iPads in the next hour. This week the Audium will host 50 people per show. Why are we talking about the Audium? Because it's a singular San Francisco experience — the complete opposite of the iPad or the newest HTC smartphone or a computer-animated movie from Disney. We like to go there when it's raining out.

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